Cal alumni clicking on all cylinders as NFL season continues

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DeSean Jackson
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver is certainly reaping the benefits of Fitz-mania this season, as interim quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has connected with Jackson 12 times for 312 yards and three scores. Jackson leads the league in yards per catch and is tied for third in touchdown catches, already matching his total from last season.

His speed and elusiveness in the open field suit the Buccaneer offense with Fitzpatrick as the starter, unlike the severe lack of production that Jackson and Jameis Winston displayed in 2017. In Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jackson tied Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice for the most touchdown receptions of 60 yards or more in league history, the 23rd of his career.

Jackson amassed only three receptions for 37 yards in Week 3 on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, after a careless holding penalty negated what would have been his first punt return touchdown of the season. He’ll take aim at a bounce-back performance this Sunday as the Bucs travel to Chicago to take on Khalil Mack and the Bears.

Jared Goff
Leading the Los Angeles Rams to a 3-0 start, Goff has 941 passing yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions so far this season. In Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers, the former No. 1 overall pick completed 80.6 percent of his passes for 354 yards. His completion percentage was the highest single-game total of his young career.

With running back Todd Gurley slated for another MVP-caliber season along with LA’s menacing defensive front, Goff has one of the best supporting casts in the NFL. This depth will allow him to take more calculated risks against top opponents as he continues to mature into one of the league’s best deliverymen.

The Rams are poised for a late postseason run, seemingly improving in every facet each week.

Cameron Jordan
The New Orleans Saints defensive end has played a critical role in the team’s hot start with a league-leading four sacks. Jordan already has more tackles, pass defenses and sacks than he tallied through the first three weeks of last season. His dominance should continue Sunday as the Saints travel to New York to face Eli Manning and the struggling Giants, whose offensive line has surrendered 12 sacks through three games.

Aaron Rodgers
The Green Bay Packers frontman is playing better on one leg than most NFL quarterbacks do in their entire career. Rodgers’ heroic Paul Pierce-esque return from a nagging knee injury suffered in a trademark comeback win against the Chicago Bears in Week 1 showed just how important he is to his team’s success.

He is one of only three starting quarterbacks in the league who has yet to throw an interception, boasting 832 passing yards and six touchdowns in three games. Given his limited practice time and lack of cohesion with his wide receivers so far this season, it makes his performances all the more impressive.

Rodgers will face a Buffalo Bills team in Week 4 that is coming off one of its most impressive wins in recent memory, a 27-6 thrashing of the Minnesota Vikings. It’s tough to tell where this team will end up in November, but with Rodgers at the helm, there is always a chance for glory.

Spencer Golanka writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected].